Dog park hailed as success for both Elgin, Hoffman Estates
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News August 23, 2013 10:52AM
Mayors Bill McLeod of Hoffman Estates and David Kaptain of Elgin join a group of residents and other officials on a walk through two neighborhoods that straddle the border between their communities. | JANELLE WALKER~FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:34AM
ELGIN — Since opening to the public nearly a year ago as a joint project between Elgin and Hoffman Estates, 485 people have paid the $50 annual fee to use the Freedom Run Dog Park in Hoffman Estates.
Almost half of the dog park’s users are residents from Elgin — 193 of them, Mayor Dave Kaptain said Wednesday.
Kaptain, along with Hoffman Estates Village President Bill McLeod, met up with about 30 people — including Elgin police, firefighters and residents — to walk the two town’s adjoining neighborhoods, Cobblers Crossing and Canterbury. The event was part of the Kaptain’s Walk with the Mayor program. Throughout the summer, Kaptain has invited residents to meet him in various neighborhoods to walk — and ask him questions about the city at the same time.
“We walked from Hoffman Estates into Elgin and back into Hoffman Estates again,” said Aaron Cosentino, management analyst with the city administrator’s office.
Although he lives in far-west Elgin, Cosentino said, he brings his small dog to the Hoffman Estates park regularly. It is the only place where the dog can run off-leash and he knows the other dogs there are checked for their health before being allowed to use it, Cosentino said.
Construction of the dog park was somewhat controversial as Elgin paid for half the $133,000 construction costs, even though the park sits inside Hoffman Estates.
But Elgin residents are getting what they wanted in the park, Kaptain said — adding that communities sharing resources and costs will become more and more the norm during a tougher economic climate.
“This did what a joint effort should do,” Kaptain said. “We plan to enjoy a long life out here,” he added, noting that Elgin signed a 25-year agreement with Hoffman Estates to create the dog park.
More than a field
Unlike a typical park, Freedom Run is fenced in to allow dogs to run off-leash. Areas are separated for large and small dogs. The park includes benches and shaded areas for dogs and their owners, and areas where dogs can run through courses for training, too.
Users must pay a fee and prove their animal is up-to-date on shots and is healthy before being allowed to use the park. Registered users are given a fob key to open the gate, Cosentino said.
“Most people just think it is a big field. They have no idea what is here,” Kaptain said.
Although the two communities split construction costs, Hoffman Estates paid for the design cost and also pays for ongoing maintenance and administrative costs, Cosentino added.
Elgin also helped to fund a playground in city property across the road, Kaptain noted. That playground is used by resident on both sides of the town borders, he said.
“We are sharing expertise and expenses,” Kaptain said.
“The dogs don’t know what town it is,” McLeod added.
Way of the future
Partnering with neighboring communities — particularly those where boundaries are hard to notice — will continue, Kaptain said.
“I don’t think there is going to be any choice. We would be foolish if we didn’t,” Kaptain said.
Already, he said, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office has reached out to Elgin police about agreements to patrol unincorporated portions of the county that abut Elgin, Kaptain said. Other communities have asked about leasing lockup space in the Elgin jail, he said.
“It all saves taxpayer money in the long run,” Kaptain added.